Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday assured tax payers that he will remove the fear of taxman hounding them by ushering in accountability and answerability.
“Middle class, upper middle class used to be hassled with I-T officers, more than police. I have to change this situation, I am working on it and will make the change happen,” Modi said in his Independence Day address.
The Prime Minister said that he wishes to focus not only on the work being done by the Government, but also on its work-culture. Addressing the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort, Modi said that in the past honest citizens felt harassed while claiming refunds, but now the entire system has become electronic and refunds reach bank accounts within week’s time.
“There was a time when ordinary, honest citizens used to give his or her income tax and used to carefully give two rupees extra so that there is no problem going ahead. But after the money came to the exchequer, then he or she used to have a hard time to get refund, they had to use contacts and it used to take months for the citizens to get their refund from the exchequer,” he said.
“Today we have moved towards online refund. In a week, 2 weeks or 3 weeks refunds have started going. This is a result of measures like accountability and answerability,” he added.
Seeking to eliminate corruption and promote ease of doing business, the Income Tax Department has been taking various tax payer friendly measures, including e-verification of returns, paperless email-based inquiry and e-scrutiny.
During the current fiscal, till August 1, refunds of up to Rs 5,000 have already been issued to over 11.91 lakh assesses involving a total amount of Rs 244 crore. In order to bring in transparency, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has recently published comprehensive data based on income tax returns filed for assessment year 2012-13. For a number of technical and other reasons since 1999-2000, India had stopped publishing detailed I-T data and stood out as an outlier amongst comparable countries.
“In order to rectify this anomaly and promote transparency, as well as to facilitate wider analysis, the government has decided to resume publication of this data but in greater scope and detail,” according to Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, who co-authored a write-up on the issue with Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian.
The chieftains of the Finance Ministry are of the are of the view that making the data public is consistent with the government’s strong commitment to promote transparency. In 2011-12, there were 2.9 crore filers of individual income tax and 5.8 lakh filers of corporate income tax.
“If we also include those whose tax was deducted at source (TDS) but didn’t file the return, we estimate that there were a total of 4.4 crore individual income-tax payers and 6.5 lakh corporate-tax payers. “Thus, 3.7 per cent of the population and 9.1 per cent of the workforce were part of the individual income-tax system,” said Adhia and Subramanian.